Latex is a milky white substance that is extracted from rubber trees. Natural latex is in fact rubber particles dispersed in water. Latex is cured by mixing 95 percent of the rubber-substance with 5 percent mixture of curing agents, including zinc oxide, sulfur, fatty acid soaps and sodium. The curing agents are mostly washed away, leaving 99 percent pure rubber. Synthetic latex is an artificial form of latex made by mixing chemical substances, or by combining natural rubber with chemical additives.
Foam is a porous, moderately rigid or sponge-like material. Foam is manufactured by mixing or “whipping” air into various substances, before freezing and heating it to form its shape. As the air impregnates the particles, the light, porous nature of the material is created. Materials such as polymers (synthetic chemical compounds) are mixed with air to produce foam. Latex is also whipped with air to create latex foam, also called rubber foam.
Foam is generally used for thermal insulation, cushioning and shock absorption. Latex is used in adhesives, paints, gloves, condoms, threads and foams.
Memory Foam Mattress vs. Latex Mattress
The most common occasion where we see comparisons using foam versus latex is with mattress manufacturing. Both mattress types are designed to form to the body of the sleeper. While memory foam is softer, the gel-like feel is a quality that manufacturers claim offers comfort that surpasses traditional mattresses. The major difference, manufacturers note, is that the latex foam mattress will last a lifetime under normal circumstances, while the memory foam mattress can breakdown in as little as three to five years.